all born with our own individual voice to offer the world. Sadly the
world (which includes our families and communities) seems often more
interested in molding us in its image, rather than in nurturing our
unique qualities. And of course the "voice" represents so
much more than the ability to speak or sing freely and effectively.
Your voice is the ambassador of your heart and soul.
Whether I go to an opera, a recital or a play, I long to hear the performers
who use their voices to express the inexpressible, from their heart
As a young singer I was known for the emotional power of my performances.
But the longer I studied to perfect my technique and got caught up in
the business side of singing, the harder it became to find the easy
emotional connection I had had when I started.
It was not until my first Feldenkrais lesson in 1983 that I felt how
all of my effort and all the "trying hard" at every level
physical and mental and emotional had led me away from
the essence of singing and had created as many vocal problems as had
Whatever your individual way of trying may be, the effort involved often
obscures the very ability you have to discern the fine details of motor
skills that allow you to learn and refine the art of singing, or anything
else for that matter.
As a singer and teacher, it was through my Feldenkrais lessons that
I discovered a whole new paradigm of practicing and learning. Practicing
a la Feldenkrais involves a variety of tasks some familiar
to singers and some not that help you learn, with greater clarity
and ease, how to use the soft palate, tongue, jaw and breath, each as
they're meant to be used. The ultimate goal, however, is to maintain
a connection to your whole being as you search for the elusive internal
players in the act of singing all without sacrificing your commitment
to a sense of ease in the rest of your body and mind as you learn the
As a learner my experience has been that teachers of anything focus
much more on the demands of the skill, in this case singing, than on
how to bring the student in all of your uniqueness to those demands.
My way of practicing and studying involves learning a more wide angled
focus that allows you to shift fluidly back and forth between the skill
to be learned and the information that your body provides as to what
needs to be clarified, what "language" is best for you, and
at what pace.
So instead of "trying" to use your mind and ideas to make
your body learn what it doesn't know, you simply engage in little exercises
that allow you to find handles that help your body find its way
a new way. The rigor required is to calm the mind's urge to know right
away and to make something happen. You attempt to get comfortable engaging
in these activities from a place of curiosity as you go from not knowing
to knowing. You replace "trying" with starting from what you
can do and gradually bridging to the things you can't do yet.
And guess what? As you tune in to your body, singing from the heart
just happens and you are present in yourself rather than nervous and
imagining what everyone else is thinking about you and your performance.
This approach works whether you're a beginner, an experienced singer
who is stuck, or simply a person looking for your "voice"
in the world. It is not a quick fix, but signs of improvement and progress
and hope can be evident even in the first lesson.